The progress and stability of a club lies in its youth. Without development of young players, a club cannot have any chance of success. However, having said that, experience and senior players are also a must for a holistic squad. Teams like Aston VIlla have shown that over reliance on youth can be degenerative. With a fine balance of both, a prolific team can be assembled.
When we look at Chelsea, the club has one of the most talented ensemble of youth. Most have yet never featured for the first team and most are out on loan. But an investigation of their playing skills and achievements reveals their potentials. Players like Piazon, Atsu, McEachran and van Ginkel are the forerunners of a new Chelsea. But the next question that arises is when? When is it time to induct these players into the team. Should the club discard its old veterans and feature its new talents? Or should it wait and potentially risk losing its impetuous youth to other clubs? The matter is indeed thought provoking.
The names of Lampard, Terry, Cech and Cole are synonymous with ‘Chelsea FC’; theirs are the first faces that come to mind when we think of the word Chelsea. But over the past couple of seasons, with the inclusion of the next generation like Hazard and Oscar, a decreasing influence of the old hands on Chelsea’s game has been witnessed. A few ostentatious fans have gone as far as to suggest that the time of the veterans is over and they need to be sold.
The example of Didier Drogba is brought up who, after a glorious six years at the club, left as a hero and legend. But the other stars as of yet, not evinced wishes to depart. The players still have futures and are still integral parts of the team. Let us look at each of the four veterans...
I think the time has finally come for me to grudgingly admit that Lampard’s time at Chelsea is nearing its end. With 644 appearances and 209 goals (highest scorer for Chelsea) the stalwart midfielder needs to hang up his Chelsea boots. Of late, his accuracy and precision has declined. No longer do we see him dictating the midfield play with crosses and long balls.
His short passes are very much a joy to watch till date but the impact on the game is minimal. Lampard’s coveted long range shots are also on the decline, mainly due to changes in the formation. However the battle scarred player cannot be discarded immediately. The club should focus on gradually bringing in replacements.
The young Nemanja Matic is the most suitable replacement. The likes of Van Ginkel also show great potential in filling the veteran’s boots. It will be agonisingly painstaking to watch Lampard depart, but it is a necessary evil. I hope to see him soon on the coaching staff.
Petr Cech’s case is a whole new ball game. The Chelsea fans are unevenly divided on whether to stick with Cech or to pass the gloves to Thibaut Courtois, arguably the best young goalkeeper in the world. The odds are against Cech; however the experienced shotstopper has shown great tenacity this season with fine displays in every match. In my opinion, he still has a long Chelsea career remaining considering that his age is only 31. Barring any serious slump in form, Chelsea should retain its veteran goalkeeper. Courtois can wait..
Having put up a magnificent display this season, the Blues’ club captain has shown his potency and importance to the team. Stellar defending has been the order of his game ever since he joined and that is what he has displayed this season. Most fans will agree that John Terry can still last a few more season’s at Chelsea. Besides, currently we do not have any young defenders with the potency to replace him. I look forward to seeing our Captain, Leader and Legend chug out another few seasons at the helm of affairs.
The English left back has one of the weakest cases. With the success of Ivanovic and Azpilicueta on the wings, Cole’s influence has been nullified. However in the little game time that he was allotted, he showed great skills and sharpness both in attack and defence. The unfortunate fact for him is that his greatness is matched, if not excelled, by the other two first choice wing-backs.
Currently, the transfer market is also rife with rumours of Luke Shaw moving to Chelsea. If that rumour turns out to be true, then Cole must call and end his Chelsea career. Cole has been an integral part of the club's success over the past decade, but his time has now come to an end. With some work, he could spend a few more seasons but his departure would not be the ultimate blow to Chelsea. I have developed great respect for this man and whatever his decision, I shall support him.
In the coming transfer period, the club’s management will have to take a number of important decisions. It will be interesting to see how the situation is tackled. Hopefully, the old guard will not be sold!
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